The techie bits of the Internet are all a frenzy as Google finally gives the world a look at it's enigmatic Project Glass, possibly better known as Google Goggles. These super sci-fi glasses add a heads-up-display (HUD) to your vision allowing you to access pretty much all your Google/Android apps, literally right in front of your eyes. I'm not sure what I was expecting in terms of design, but the picture to the left surely wasn't it. The prototype is sleek and simple, like a modernized version of a Star Trek visor. From a fashion perspective, though these do fit the minimalist look of today, I'm not sure people are ready to put something so inherently nerdy right on their faces. It is rumored that Google is also working on a more traditional version, perhpas a pair of Wayfarers with LED lenses and a computer chip might be more 2012.
I will say however, that the technology and functionality involved in these glasses really gets me excited. The video, which is posted below gives you a better idea of what it's like. This is basically the pinnacle of augmented reality. It's like having your smartphone implanted into your head. Apps and widgets float cleanly in your field of vision, but add to reality rather than obstruct it. Appointments, reminders, weather, music, GPS, messaging, etc are all available while you're on the go. Calls pop in at the top right corner of the field and location pins pop up above their respective buildings. The GPS was my favorite. The glasses map out the route and then put up the directions discreetly into the left corner and announce them into your ear. What would be really great is if it overlaid the map onto the actual street. So you could see the arrows on the ground as you walked.
That brings up a good point about these specs. All that's really known about the functionality is what's on the video above. What's depicted is a nice minimal interface but it's hard to tell how having all these widgets in front of you would effect your vision. What's lacking is a description of how you operate the device. If it's done by eye tracking, it might be difficult to watch where you're going while you're looking all over the place trying to open up a phone call. Obviously based on the video you're going to see a lot more people talking to themselves as the glasses seem to be operated via voice, but how do you listen, to music or calls. From the images it doesn't look like there's a connected ear piece. I don't know about you but I don't think I'd want all my calls coming through on speaker all the time.
All in all, I love the idea behind these augmented reality goggles; I can definitely seeing it being the next step in merging digital connectivity with the physical world. If Google can effectively create a HUD that doesn't distract the user from their surroundings, they would open up a huge market for AR windshields on cars. Think about how much easier it would be to get directions if they just popped up on the road rather than having to look at your Garmin or your phone. I will surely be keeping an eye out for updates on this sci-fi masterpiece, and you can expect to see me at Lens Crafters when they come out with prescription lenses or contacts.
For more on Project Glass visit: G.co/Project Glass